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House Democrats vow to protect Republican Speaker Mike Johnson from his own party

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House Democrats have said they would kill a right-wing effort to oust Republican Mike Johnson as the chamber’s Speaker, in a display of bipartisanship that comes after he defied members of his own party to allow a vote on funding for Ukraine.

In a joint statement on Tuesday, House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries, whip Katherine Clark and caucus chair Pete Aguilar said they would vote to shelve any move by Republican congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene to force Johnson out of his job.

The Democrats’ move drew backlash from Greene, who said on X that Johnson was now “officially the Democrat Speaker of the House”, comments that pointed to more divisions within the Republican conference.

Greene, an isolationist Republican and supporter of Donald Trump, has for more than a month threatened to introduce a “motion to vacate”, which would trigger a vote of no confidence in the Speaker. It is the same legislative manoeuvre that Matt Gaetz, another right-wing member, used last year to oust fellow Republican Kevin McCarthy.

But McCarthy never had the backing of House Democrats, and the statement of support from President Joe Biden’s party on Tuesday all but ensures Johnson will hold on to his job.

It is a surprising turn for Johnson, a mild-mannered congressman from Louisiana and loyal Trump ally who succeeded McCarthy last year.

Johnson sent shockwaves through Washington and around the world earlier this month when he agreed to hold votes on a $95bn foreign aid package that included more than $60bn in fresh US aid for Ukraine.

Johnson had previously voted against sending more money to Kyiv, but pressed ahead with the foreign aid votes after Iran’s aerial attack on Israel and a sustained pressure campaign from the White House, intelligence chiefs, foreign diplomats and Ukrainian activists, including fellow evangelical Christians.

The Democratic House leaders said their party had “put people over politics and found bipartisan common ground with traditional Republicans in order to deliver real results”. They added it was “time . . . to turn the page on this chapter of pro-Putin Republican obstruction”.

Greene used a post on X to call for Johnson to resign and “switch parties”, and indicated she would still try to press ahead with her campaign to oust to him.

“If the Democrats want to elect him Speaker (and some Republicans want to support the Democrats’ chosen Speaker), I’ll give them the chance to do it,” she said.

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